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A prayer for mercy (5:1-22)
This poem was apparently written in Judah some time after the fall of Jerusalem. Only the people of no use to Babylon were left in the land, and this poem reflects the hardships they faced (cf. Jeremiah 52:16).
In a plea to God for mercy, the people remind him of their present shame (5:1). Death has broken up their families, and the invaders have taken over their houses and lands (2-3). They live and work like slaves in their own country, and have to buy water from their foreign overlords (4-5). Their ancestors tried to keep the nation alive by seeking help from Egypt and Assyria, but they actually brought the nation to ruin. Now the people have to submit to Babylonian guards who are little more than slaves (6-8).
Conditions in Judah are terrible. The people have to search the barren country regions for food, and in doing so they risk death from desert bandits (9-10). Judean women are raped, former leaders are tortured, and children are forced to work like slaves (11-13). The old way of life has gone, and with it has gone all celebration and rejoicing (14-15). People everywhere are unhappy, discouraged and ashamed. They acknowledge that their sin has brought all this upon them (16-18).
In a final desperate plea, the people cry to the sovereign ruler of the world not to reject them but to bring them back to himself. They ask that he will restore their nation and give them the happiness they once enjoyed. God is eternal and unchangeable, and they are his people; surely he will not forget them (19-22).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Lamentations 5". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25